The Essex Tape (1971)

White label record only


In 1971, Noel Harrison visited Trident Studios in central London to record five new songs.

The tracks included two by American singer-songwriter Mickey Newbury, one by folk singer Judy Collins, a traditional Irish song called Macushla, and one of Noel's own compositions.

Trident was the studio where the Beatles recorded Hey Jude and songs for the White Album. George Harrison also recorded All Things Must Pass there and David Bowie recorded his Ziggy Stardust album at the studio.

The songs Noel performed were recorded for Essex Music who published music by artists including Bowie, the Rolling StonesProcol Harumthe Who and Marc Bolan.

They were recorded two years after Noel had released what would be his final album for Reprise, The Great Electric Experiment is Over and after his final single for the company, Another Virgin Spring, had been released in April 1970.

Sadly, none of the songs from the Trident session were ever released and they remained unknown until a rare white-label recording was discovered in an American record store in 2017.





Track List

Thirty Third of August - (Mickey Newbury)


My Father - (Judy Collins)


Dog Beach - (Noel Harrison)


Macoushla - (Traditional)


San Francisco Mabel Joy - (Mickey Newbury)






Songs

The songs on the Essex tape all date from 
1968-1971, with the latest being San Francisco Mabel Joy, which had been released by Mickey Newbury in 1971 and was later covered by Joan Baez. Noel clearly loved the song, as he was still performing it live in concerts as late as 2010 (see video below).

The other Newbury song from the session, Thirty Third of August, had been released by Newbury in 1969 and was again covered by Joan Baez as well as Willie Nelson.

The Judy Collins song, My Father, was originally released in 1968 and as well as being covered by Noel, it was also sung by Nina Samone.


The track Macoushla is a version of the traditional Irish song, Macushla, which was first copyrighted in 1910.


The only composition of Noel's on the tape was Dog Beach. It tells the story of how Noel met his second wife Margaret and includes references to her pet Labrador called Duck and Noel's pet cockatoo from the time, Eggbert.





Noel's own songs

Between 1968 and 1973, Noel Harrison copyrighted a lot of his own songs, the majority of which unfortunately never made it onto tape.

A song called Hard Times at Dog Beach was copyrighted by Noel on February 9, 1970. This could be the same song, or an earlier version, of Dog Beach, which appears on the Essex tape.

At around the same time, Noel copyrighted the songs I've Been There Before and Don't Hold Your Breath, which have never been released.

Earlier, in January 1970, he copyrighted the songs Last Will and Testament, Tin Wedding, Song to You and In My Time.

Tin Wedding was released as a single in April 1970, Song to You is presumably the track Another Song to You, which appeared on The Great Electric Experiment is Over in 1969 and In My Time was only ever performed live by Noel once - in April 1970 on the TV show Playboy After Dark (see the video below).

Historic copyright records show that Noel also wrote the songs I'm Ready to Come Home to You and Hello Sweet Life in 1973 and Exit in 1968 - but none of these were ever released.